Pennsylvania may be landlocked, but it’s still home to some beautiful lake beaches. With many lakes and reservoirs, you get access to the water in a special way. From the eastern part of the state, you can reach the beach in only an hour or two. There you’ll find tiny Victorian towns, flashy boardwalks and serene state parks offering something for everyone. Get a Pennsylvania vacation rental close to town or find a secluded cabin in the woods. Some towns require permits for day use of their beaches and others provide free access. All of them have great vacation rental options, so read on to discover the 10 best sandy getaways in Pennsylvania.
1. Black Moshannon State Park
The quaint beach at Black Moshannon State Park is located near the largest bog in Pennsylvania. The park itself covers 3,394 acres of forests and wetlands and conserves unique natural environments. With more than 43,000 acres of the Moshannon State Forest surrounding the park, you’ll find tons of recreational opportunities in addition to regular, old beach fun. Boat rentals are available during the summer season, and the 250-acre Black Moshannon Lake has 90 mooring spaces and four boat launch areas. Work up your appetite on the hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking trails, then try your hand at fishing to bring in some dinner.
2. Bald Eagle State Park
The Joseph Foster Sayers Reservoir, a man-made lake located in Bald Eagle State Park, has a beautiful beach where you can kick back and relax. The 1,730-acre lake laps the flanks of Bald Eagle Mountain and is surrounded by forests, fields, and wetlands. With two campgrounds, boating, fishing, swimming, the Nature Inn, and diverse habitats that are excellent for wildlife watching, Bald Eagle State Park is a great destination in the heart of Pennsylvania. The 1,200-foot long sand and turf beach also has a children’s playground, snack bar, changing rooms, public restrooms, and parking. It’s a one stop shop for summertime fun!
3. Presque Isle State Park
Presque Isle State Park along Lake Erie is Pennsylvania’s only “sea shore.” It has not one but 11 beautiful beaches for you to enjoy making it a popular hot spot for both locals and visitors each summer. Beaches are open daily throughout the year for walking, sunbathing, picnicking and more, but swimming is only allowed at guarded beaches while lifeguards are on duty. Be sure to check out the Presque Isle Lighthouse while you’re there.
4. Poe Valley State Park
Poe Lake is a man made lake that was created during the Great Depression. The cozy Poe Valley State Park is nestled in a rugged mountain valley in Centre County and is surrounded by a seemingly endless forest. This swimming beach at Poe Lake is open during the summer months, May to early September. There are no lifeguards on duty, but the maximum water depth is only five feet. If you get hungry, there’s a concession stand nearby that offers hot food, snacks, and ice cream, as well as ice and some camping and picnic supplies.
5. Harveys Lake
Harveys Lake is the largest naturally occurring lake that is contained entirely in the state of Pennsylvania. This quiet, more residential area is perfect for a relaxing getaway and has plenty of vacation rentals available right near the water. There’s also easy access to swimming, fishing, water skiing, motor boating and scuba diving as well as restaurants, beaches and boat launch sites.
6. Beltzville State Park
Beltzville State Park has 525 feet of sandy beach, complete with showers and a snack bar. The park itself sits on 3,002 acres of land in the southern foothills of the Poconos. The lake is a popular destination for boaters, anglers, and birdwatchers, since migrating waterfowl often use the area as a rest stop. Bring your lunch and come early because the picnic pavilions are very popular and are free on a first-come, first-served basis.
7. Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach
Mt. Gretna is a gorgeous beach that’s perfect for hosting events such as birthday parties and day camps. This family owned and operated swim and recreation facility is open to the public for a daily fee, and extremely popular for swimming and picnics. The 8 acres of the beach are accompanied by a recreation lawn and picnic grove which are adjacent to mountain stream-fed Lake Conewago. With a mission to provide a safe, clean and courteous recreational environment, Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach is the ideal summer day trip getaway.
8. Gouldsboro State Park
Gouldsboro State Park in northeastern Pennsylvania contains 2,800 acres of land, including the 250-acre Gouldsboro Lake, which is most popular for fishing and boating. The sand beach is complete with rustic restrooms, and the park also provides five wooded picnic areas with picnic tables and charcoal grills, so you can make a day of it. Picnic pavilions are also available for rent and can be reserved up to 11 months in advance.
9. Mauch Chunk Lake Park
The Mauch Chunk Lake Park, located in the Boroughs of Jim Thorpe and Summit Hill, was originally created as a flood control project. Today, the park exceeds 150,000 visitors annually and has become a popular vacation destination for many families with opportunities for camping, swimming, picnicking, hiking, biking, fishing and boating. The beach and swim area opened in 1975 and offers a picturesque view of Flagstaff Mountain.
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10. Palmyra Township Public Beach
Have a fun day in the sun at Lake Wallenpaupack’s only public beach. The Palmyra Township Public Beach is open from Memorial day to Labor day and is the perfect spot to soak up plenty of sunshine, swim, or just relax along the shore. Admission to the beach is only $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for children 12 and under. Seniors and infants can enjoy the beach for free. Be sure to bring a picnic lunch to eat at one of the many picnic areas or bring money to use at the snack bar on site. Swimming lessons are even offered at the Palmyra Beach waterfront.